The London mayor has unveiled a new £50m sponsorship deal with Santander for the capital’s ‘Boris bikes’, which will also see the launch of a new cycling app.
Transport for London (TfL) and mayor Boris Johnson said the seven-year agreement was the world’s largest public-sector sponsorship deal and represented ‘great value’ for the capital’s residents.
The Spanish bank will take over sponsorship of the cycle hire scheme from Barclays, which decided to cut short its contract after signing a deal in 2010.
New red-and-white branded bicycles will be introduced to London from April under the moniker ‘Santander Cycles’. Plans could see as many as 1,000 new docking stations introduced to the scheme alongside an ‘earn back’ programme for credit card holders.
Santander will pay £6.25m a year over the next seven years to sponsor the programme in addition to an annual £1m activation fund for promotional purposes.
Mr Johnson confirmed a new app for the scheme would also be introduced to make it easier for users to find an available hire bike.
‘As everyone knows, London buses, phone kiosks and post boxes are red. In Santander Cycles, we have a new red icon symbolising the capital to Londoners, and the world. Santander's marketing expertise will help us take the Cycle Hire scheme to a new level, and I am thrilled to welcome them,’ the London mayor said.
Graeme Craig, TfL's director of commercial development, said: ‘We are really excited that our new partnership with Santander will help us build on the success of London's iconic Cycle Hire scheme. It represents great value for customers, who will see improvements over the coming years including more bikes, more docking stations and new ways to access the cycles.’
Nathan Bostock, CEO of Santander UK, said: ‘We are committed to making the experience of using Santander Cycles as simple, personal and fair as possible. It is why we will launch a world-first app to enable users to engage with the scheme from the palm of their hand; offer a more rewarding experience with cash back on every journey for customers of our 1|2|3 Credit Card; and why we will be looking to have Cycle Champions in all of Santander's London branches to help users make the most of the scheme and their city.’
Green Party London Assembly member Darren Johnson said the extra money from the deal was ‘good news for cycling in London’ but raised ‘genuine concerns over some of Santander's international activities and its suitability as a sponsor’.
Labour's assembly transport spokesperson Val Shawcross added: ‘While money is important this deal shouldn't just be about the bottom line, it should be about finding a partner who will take an active role in promoting and championing cycling in London. I very much hope that is the case with Santander.’